Fremantle senior coach Trent Cooper is in Ireland this week as Fremantle commence their search for an AFLW ruck for the 2020 season.
Fremantle are on the lookout for a replacement for rucks Alicia Janz and Parris Laurie, who both switched to West Coast in the 2019 AFLW sign and trade period.
Freo have ranked last for hitouts in all three AFL Women’s seasons, and a genuine ruck talent is the primary target for Cooper in Ireland – a country that has a long history of players making the switch from Gaelic Football to Australian Rules Football.
Cooper is attending a Cross Coders camp this week in Ireland, which aims to help female athletes make the switch between the Irish and Australian game.
“At the camp, they get all the talent there who are interested in playing AFLW. We’ve got our eyes on a few girls who we think can make the grade so we’re heading across to have a good look and to see what else is out there as well,” Cooper said.
“We’re probably looking for the best available talent and at the same time, we’re definitely going to look for some tall players, particularly someone who can play in the ruck and maybe a power-type forward as well.
“We’re looking for height and athleticism, which they have a lot of in the Gaelic game over there.”
Cooper highlighted a number of success stories in AFLW for players who have made the switch from Ireland.
“It’s a very strong competition in Ireland, they’re brought up playing the game from a very young age and have gone all the way through, it’s a bit different to a lot of our girls,” Cooper said.
“The girls that have come across so far have been very impressive, such as Cora Staunton, Sarah Rowe and Ailish Considine, who played in a premiership for the Crows.
“The girls have adapted very quickly so we want to jump on that bandwagon and hopefully recruit a couple who can go well for us.”
Cooper said that Fremantle could sign up to three players as rookies without affecting Fremantle’s 2019 AFLW draft hand.
“There are three rookie spots for cross-sport rookies,” Cooper said.
“The rules are they can’t have played any Australian Rules Football in the past few years. If we take them as rookies, it doesn’t affect our draft order at all, they just go straight onto our list to make up our total of 30 players so hopefully, we can find two or three of that type.”